In fanfiction, there are three types of people (generally). Those who read, and god bless them for it. Those who write, and for goodness sake, bless them too. Then there are us crazy nut jobs that multitask and do both. I'm one of those nut jobs. Staying up all night to write and read and feed my ravenous addiction. So, for my fellow writers, you know those stories that you read and think to yourself, "I'm setting fire to my laptop right the F now, because there is no way I can ever be as talented as that?" And fellow readers, you know you've come across something unique when you have to muffle your laughter to keep from waking the lump snoring next to you and bust out the Kleenex to dry your eyes all in a single chapter.
Yep, the fic I'm reccing today is one of those. Nonetheless, I had a problem, because how can I express my thoughts on writing that literally leaves me speechless? There are only two things on this planet that leave me without words. The first are hot Robward pics. The second is this fic.
Trust me when I say you must read it for yourself to appreciate the full depth of emotion, the complex relationships and the perfectly fleshed out situations brought to life with amazing realism and detail. You have to put your heart on the line and offer it up to the author, TheHeartOfLife. Because when you are done, I promise she will own it and add it to the quickly growing collection on her shelf.
Every time this fic updates, I have to take a deep breath and prepare myself for it’s incomparable angsty goodness, because I know my black heart will squeeze at least once. The beautiful thing is, I’ll most likely laugh too, and sigh longingly over the perfect Emmett, all while shaking my fist at dumb boy Edward. It's always a beautiful mixed bouquet of emotions in every single chapter. With each chapter I read, I realize how astonishingly appropriate her penname is: TheHeartOfLife. That’s exactly what she gives us in this story, she reminds us what is at the very heart of living. From grief over lost love to the joy of renewed friendships, she reveals the poignancy of the human experience.
First and foremost, this is a story about Rose and Edward, but it is not a Roseward. It is written entirely from Rose's POV and explores the natural, and often painful, evolution of lifelong friendships. Boy and girl meet in kindergarten under adorable circumstances and become best friends. Fast forward twenty years and we learn that over the course of that time, Rose fell in love with Edward. Fell hard. Yet, she never acted on her feelings until it was too late. Bella had come into Edward's life, and Rose lost him. For years they don't speak. Now, Rose discovers that Edward and Bella are getting married and Edward failed to tell Rose of his engagement. The story focuses on her anger at Edward for that betrayal, and her struggle to let go of the past and the boy she's been in love with her whole life. She's forced into moving on and losing her roots. She has no choice but to accept that her friendships have changed and that her childhood happiness is irretrievable. *Cue angsty heartfail*
I love this Rose. In fact, I absolutely adore her. No thought or feeling she experiences is left unexplored by the author. We are shown a Rose we can admire and identify with in this story. Her canon traits are peppered throughout, including her apparent coolness and trademark vanity. Yet as we learn more about her, we begin to realize this is only how her actions are perceived by those around her, and that there is a very logical and understandable motive for her standoffishness. She's protecting herself from getting hurt more, and really, who can blame her? This is a woman who's been broken-hearted for a long time, a woman who needs to heal, but isn't sure how.
Thank god for one incredibly swoon-worthy Emmett McCarty, because ohmygawd, the UST is unreal. Poor Rose has loved Edward for so long she's shut herself off of being available to anyone else. When she goes home to Forks for Edward's wedding (thanks to a heads up from Alice), Emmett is there, and the old easy patterns of high school flirting pick up where they'd left off years ago. Rose finds herself confused by her obvious attraction to Emmett, but her lack of resolution over her past with Edward keeps her in turmoil. (This is where I shake my fist at Edward. A lot.) TheHeartOfLife expertly captures the tension between Emmett and Rose. Pretty early on, you find yourself yelling at her to wake up and see what's standing right in front of her, while simultaneously drying your eyes for her understandable heartbreak.
I paused, staring at my reflection. I could almost see the confusion swirling above my head, the heady mix of emotions that I just couldn't figure out. I didn't know what to make of Emmett's behavior this morning, or my reaction to it. We'd always been flirty with each other, almost outrageously so. And I knew that once upon a time he'd had feelings for me. But those had been put to rest long ago, I was sure of it. Still, I was having a hard time reconciling my reaction to his touch, how it was possible to respond to him in that way when my heart was so caught up, still so damaged."
Don't you just want to hug her and tell her it will be okay and pig out on ice cream with her? Never fear however. Resisting Emmett's magnetism is an exercise in futility. His easygoing patience and steady familiarity are her anchor throughout the fic. As the story progresses and we watch them interact, it's obvious that Emmett is Rose's outlet, her release, and the only person who can make her smile. The pull between them becomes increasingly distracting for Rose, making her question her feelings and their physical connection. (This is where I cheer Emmett on and scream for him to kiss her.)
Sigh. I love the sense of intense attraction the author evokes here. It truly is a rare and intense feeling that is so well written between these two characters that you feel every kilowatt of their electricity. It's these moments between Emmett and Rose, sprinkled carefully in all the right places, that gives us hope that Rose can heal, and that maybe, Emmett will be there to help her.
It's not all about the romantic relationships however. TheHeartOfLife constructs Rose's childhood and past with such realistic detail, you can't help but recall your own memories of when you were that carefree. Vivid, honest and beautifully described, Heart drops you right into being ten years old again.
You almost forget that sense of innocence is possible. I'm beyond grateful TheHeartOfLife is here to remind us. She so beautifully captures Rose's thoughts, showing us how capable she is of deep feelings and contemplative thought, a far cry from the shallow pool of vanity described in canon. As I said, this is a Rose we can admire. I'm not saying she isn't without fault. As in all relationships, each person plays a role in the conflict and Rose is no different. She has regrets. But this is a story about growth and as the story evolves, I sense that her growth and healing are just about to begin.
As the end of the fic draws near, for me it will be bittersweet. Sweet because I'm really pulling for Rose to get her HEA, she so deserves one. Yet the bitterness may come in that it likely won't be the HEA Rose was originally hoping for. Such is life however, so rarely tied up in a perfect bow. TheHeartOfLife gives us pause to reconsider our definition of HEA. Is the perfect ever after about the characters obtaining the thing they need/crave/desire most? Or rather an ending where the character realizes what they need to grow and live and love again? I, personally, vote for the later.
It is not a secret that I preread this story. I'd like to take a moment to say that I became a fan of the author long before I knew her. She was a fellow participant in the Indies First Time Writer Challenge and I read her entry, The Corner Of Your Heart, on which The Long Way Home is based. If you don't want to take my word for it, I completely understand. Instead, may I humbly suggest you peruse her reviews and see what other readers are saying about her work. Each one is an eloquent testament to a talent that we all hope we'll be lucky enough to share for a long time to come.
LoreliD is the author of a handful of fics including Becoming Jane and I'll Be Seeing You which she co-wrote with Lightstardusting. She is an eclectic connoisseur of many things including sci-fi, classic lit, muscle cars, Mozart and all things Edwardian.